Feb 22, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Utah Jazz forward Paul Milsap (24) is fouled by Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love (42) during the third quarter at the Target Center. The Timberwolves defeated the Jazz 100-98. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

Milsap Gives Some Love

Okay that was a terrible title, but come on!

While the non-trades in the final hours of the trade deadline left much to be desired (just say it: today sucked … hours and hours of pointless sweating and debating for naught), at least the Jazz managed to fend off those pesky, nay, irritating (non-Rubio) Timberwolves in a thrilling 111-105 OT victory.

Like one of those bits of food that you can never quite remove from your teeth, the T-Wolves gave Utah a hefty test but, thanks to some nice thievery from Milsap (who outplayed Kevin Love yet again), the Jazz managed to hang on for the overtime win.

Paul’s stats: 16 points, 11 rebounds, eight steals, and two blocks. WOW. Not to mention the man nearly had the play of the decade (okay, maybe the game) with that near-game winner at the end of regulation. With 0.7 seconds left on the clock, Jamaal Tinsley tossed an alley-oop to a streaking-for-the-basket Milsap, who tossed in the layup and watched as the ball inexplicably rolled out of the cylinder. Milsap lay on the floor for a few moments, looking quite bewildered at his misfortune (either that or he was bowed in humble prayer to the basketball gods, asking them to give him a friggin’ break).

In the end, Milsap triumphed with a couple of big defensive plays in overtime, one of which led to Love throwing his arms in the air in defeat and ended with a Gordon Hayward two-handed jam (as Bolerjack and his son Matt would say).

Not to be undone, Hayward (I’m still trying to think of a nickname for him … On-Ward?) put on a show, throwing down 26 points off 9-of-17 shooting and sinking some clutch free throws when the Jazz needed them most. His stellar play from off the bench continues – as Two-Face would exclaim: “SAY IT!” The boy is a natural stud.

Stubborn Facts

At this point, there’s no use arguing or whining about it any longer: the Jazz will remain the same squad for the rest of the season.  Yet, tonight’s victory only cemented my theory about Big Al: he’s better as a contributing role player rather than the star. I need to do some research (and I’ll eat my words if I’m wrong), but I’ll bet the Jazz are actually better when Jefferson isn’t the game’s high scorer. Tonight he put down 12 points (four of them coming off botched shots from his teammates in crunch time) and grabbed 13 rebounds. He contributed rather than controlled.

The difference?

His teammates remained very much involved in the contest throughout its duration. In addition to Jefferson, Hayward and Milsap, three other Jazzmen scored in double figures tonight (Burks 15, Harris 18 and Howard 10) as opposed to the five who scored in double figures in the loss against Phoenix (and their numbers were considerably lower than Big Al’s).

Of course, it helps that the Jazz played the T-Wolves on their home court, where they shoot astonishingly well from outside. And it must be said: Big Al cannot do it alone.

Other Notable Notes

I was constantly checking my phone today (in the car where I almost hit two people, in the kitchen where I almost sliced off my hand making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a steak knife, on the john where I nearly … okay, I’m done) and found myself about to explode when rumor picked up that the Lakers had nabbed Brandon Jennings from Milwaukee. My face exploded when word spread that our dreaded foes likewise picked up Cleveland PG Ramon Sessions.  All for Derek Fisher (Ha! Ha!) and some crummy draft picks. There was even talk they would land Michael Beasley …

What. The. Hell!

Thank goodness those rumors turned out to be just that. Instead, while LA did pick up Sessions and trade Fisher, they didn’t receive any free commodities in return (ala Pau Gasol). The lesson being: stop looking at rumors. I think for next year’s trade deadline (assuming those damn Mayans are wrong) I will forgo my phone for a relaxing day of PS3. A great many rumors piled on top of each other, causing instant analysis throughout the web only to deflate like Fat Bastard in Goldmember.  And what’s the point? A few days ago I ranted about the Jazz trading away Josh Howard in return for two young scrubs … I even fell victim to the Raymond Felton idea, which still sounds nice (rumor alert: apparently Portland tried to shop Felton along with Wesley Matthews … kind of a missed opportunity for the Jazz there methinks).

In the end, all these rumors do is tease us with what “might have” or “could have” been. In the end, they don’t matter. Not at all.

All that matters (is the time that was given to you) are the Jazz players currently on the roster.

As Coach Norman Dale would say: “My team’s on the floor.”

And so, for the remainder of the season, I pledge not to gripe about who this squad could be and focus on who they are right now. For my part, I see a talented group of guys who could potentially turn the corner, learn to play on the road and sneak into the playoffs. At least that seems to be the Jazz’s plan. They’re confident (hence the no show today at 1:30 PM), and so I’ll try to have a little more faith.

Who knows, maybe Big Al will suddenly spout muscles upon muscles and morph into a modern day Karl Malone. Maybe Josh Howard and Devin Harris will rediscover their Dallas skills. Maybe Hayward will grow an actual beard (ala Baron Davis). It’s the NBA, anything’s possible.

I mean come on, they let Non in for cripes sake:

Feb 19, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic (14) against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Target Center. The Timberwolves defeated the 76ers 92-91. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

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Tags: Hayward Jammal Tinsley Jefferson Milsap Non Norman Dale T-wolves Utah Jazz

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